Radical Beauty – Helen Frankenthaler

Exploring Frankenthaler’s proofs and processes this exhibition reveals the artist’s method

Helen Frankenthaler - 1998 Tales of Genji I AP 1
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Sep 15 - Apr 22

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Rare outing for seminal American Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) in the UK. Overwhelmingly influential on the new generation of women painters in the UK this is an unmissable chance to see the artist whose lexicon and use of colour is writ wholecloth in many contemporary canvasses.

Dulwich Gallery notes: 

This year we present the first major UK exhibition of woodcuts by leading Abstract Expressionist, Helen Frankenthaler.

Frankenthaler (1928–2011) is recognized among the most important American abstract artists of the 20th century, widely credited for her pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. She experimented tirelessly throughout her six-decade long career, producing a large body of work across multiple mediums. Opening ten years after her death, this exhibition shines a light on the artist’s groundbreaking woodcuts, which appear painterly and spontaneous with expanses of colour and fluid forms. It will reveal Frankenthaler as a trailblazer of the printmaking movement, who endlessly pushed possibilities through her experimentation.

Exhibition highlights include East and Beyond (1973), created by printing onto multiple blocks to avoid negative space and Cameo (1980) in which Frankenthaler introduced a new layered approach to colour using her ‘guzzying’ technique where she worked surfaces with sandpaper and dentist drills to achieve different effects. Frankenthaler’s masterpiece, Madame Butterfly (2000) is also not to be missed – sharing its title with the 1904 opera by Giacomo Puccini, the triptych’s light pastel colours and stained marks show Frankenthaler at her most expressive and lyrical. Created in collaboration with Kenneth Tyler and Yasuyuki Shibata from 46 woodblocks and 102 colours, the work measures over two metres in length and will occupy an entire room in the exhibition, along with a work proof and study to explore the complexity of its evocative title.


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